Parenting Tip of the Week – Know Safe Sleep Practices

Did you know that tomorrow, March 2nd kicks off national Sleep Awareness Week? Don’t worry, we didn’t either. But while the idea seems silly, there actually are some very important rules and guidelines for how your infant and toddlers should sleep. So in honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, today’s Parenting Tip focuses on safe sleep practices.

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What is Safe Sleep?

Safe Sleep refers to certain practices that help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. Did you know that SIDS affects more than 3500 children per year? SIDS is the leading cause of death for children between 1 month and 1 year, but fortunately there are steps parents can take to prevent SIDS. In order to reduce the risk for your child, follow these four recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and keep your child sleeping safe and sound.

Four Recommendations for Safe Sleep

Recommendation 1: Until your baby turns 1, they should sleep on their backs for all sleep times, including naps and at night.

Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to experience SIDS than other children. If your child rolls onto their side in their sleep, return them to their back unless your baby is able to roll both ways. For more information on the science behind this recommendation, check out this article from the AAP.

Recommendation 2: Keep toys, blankets, and pillows out of the baby’s crib.

Including things like blankets in the crib with your sleeping baby increases the risk of strangulation and suffocation and should be kept away. These items may become comfort items in the future, but until your baby is 1 these items should remain out of the crib. If you are concerned that your baby is cold, you can use sleep-specific clothing to keep them warm and safe.

Recommendation 3: Put your baby to sleep on a flat and firm surface, such as a crib or bassinet.

A firm surface is the best place for your baby to sleep. Cribs and bassinets are the best place for your baby sleep. You should never let your baby sleep alone on a sofa or armchair. Parents should also avoid sharing a bed with their baby as this increases the risk of suffocation.

Recommendation 4: Put your baby’s crib in your own bedroom

For at least the first six months, and preferably for the first whole year, your baby should be sleeping in the same room that you do. Not only does room-sharing make it easier for you to monitor and comfort your baby during sleep-time, experts estimate room-sharing can reduce the chance of SIDS by 50%.

Some other sleep-related tips include:

  • Ensure that your baby is always sleeping in a smoke-free room.
  • Pacifiers may help reduce the risk of SIDS, so allow your child to sleep with a pacifier if they are comfortable. If the pacifier falls out, take it out of the crib.
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps! This is especially important in the hours and days after your child was born and you are exhausted.

For more information on Safe Sleep, visit Safe Sound Babies, a project from TEAM WV. Their website has great resources for parents and advocates, including a short-but-powerful “Say YES to Safe Sleep” video.

What do you think of these recommendations to help prevent SIDS? Let us know by tweeting us @PCAAmerica or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page!